The family Noctuidae is at present divided into a number of subfamilies of widely varying validity. The higher classification is likely to be modified considerably through the activities of taxonomists over the next few years. The current higher classification and the history of its development has been reviewed by Kitching (1984).

This part of the Moths of Borneo series therefore concentrates on three of the most clearly defined subfamilies in the Quadrifinae. The Quadrifinae are subfamilies with vein M2 of the hindwing strong, as distinct from weak or lost as in the Trifinae. The small and probably polyphyletic subfamily Pantheinae is included for the sake of contrast.

The Euteliinae, with 73 species recorded from Borneo, and the Stictopterinae, with 89 Bornean species, are predominantly tropical, the latter with a definite centre of richness in the Oriental tropics. The Plusiinae are more evenly distributed with latitude, the 15 Bornean species comparable in number with those resident in Britain. The Pantheinae are predominantly Himalayan montane in their Oriental tropical representation.

There are some interesting host-plant relationships apparent. The Euteliinae are associated strongly but not exclusively with the Anacardiaceae. The Stictopterinae have one major lineage associated with the Guttiferae and the other with indications of a rather unusual, if weak, association with Dipterocarpaceae. The Plusiinae contain a high proportion of polyphagous species, many being serious pests of crops.

It soon became obvious that the classification of species within the Euteliinae and Stictopterinae was extremely unsatisfactory. This meant that, in order to introduce some stability into the nomenclature of the Bornean fauna, virtually the whole of the Indo-Australian tropical fauna in these subfamilies had to be examined, certainly all the generic type-species as established by Nye (1975), and extensive changes in generic placements made. The Plusiinae still require this treatment and are at present being studied by Dr I. J. Kitching of the British Museum (Natural History) (BMNH).

A number of species-complexes were discovered and elucidated and, for these, complete reviews are presented with discussion and description of non-Bornean taxa for the convenience of users of the work resident in other parts of the Indo-Australian tropics. Many species range from India to Melanesia or have close relatives in those parts, so this account may be of use as a preliminary identification guide throughout the Indo-Australian tropics.

Most type material was examined, mainly the actual specimens but occasionally photographs and original illustrations only were consulted in situations where the diagnosis could be considered unambiguous. Perhaps a thousand genitalia and venation preparations were made. All male genitalia are either illustrated here or in Holloway (1976), and many female genitalia are also illustrated. All holotypes will be deposited in the BMNH.

The synonymies presented for each species do not represent a complete literature search but have been restricted to original references for the names concerned and reference to relatively recent complete classifications such as that for the Euteliinae by Gaede (1937). Many species were included in Holloway (1976) and Barlow (1982), the works most likely to be available for identification purposes in south east Asia, so reference is made to these also.

Measurements referred to in the accounts of species are made from the centre of the thorax to the forewing apex.

The sections on habitat preference are based mainly on recent quantitative surveys made by the author with light-traps (Holloway 1970, 1976, 1984) and on more qualitative surveys covering a range of habitats in Brunei made over a period of years by Lt. Col. M.G. Allen, T.W. Harman and associates. The categorisation of ‘lower montane’ and ‘upper montane’ follows Holloway (1984), rather than Holloway (1970, 1976) where these terms were used in a slightly different context when applied to an altitude transect on G. Kinabalu.

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